Local House Museums Present ‘Letters from Home: Boston Families Correspond’

March 29, 2012
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The House Museum Alliance of Downtown Boston has announced its spring 2012 tour series, “Letters from Home: Boston Families Correspond,” featuring correspondence from Boston’s five downtown house museums.  For these special tours, the Paul Revere House, Otis House, Nichols House, Prescott House and Gibson House Museums will draw on their rich collections of personal and business correspondence to illuminate life in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and exhibit materials rarely seen by the public.

The tours will be held on the hour from noon to 4 p.m. on April 13, May 11 and June 8. Visitors will enjoy a 20-minute mini-tour of each house, focused on letters and other correspondence from the museums’ collections.  Tickets are $20 which provides admission to all five houses and can be purchased on line at www.thegibsonhouse.org at any participating museum in advance or on the day of the tour.  The five museums are within walking distance of each other.

The Paul Revere House, 19 North Square in the North End, will display three documents written and signed by the patriot. Copies and information about them will be provided by the curator. A self-guided tour of the Revere House is included.

The Otis House Museum, 141 Cambridge St. in Beacon Hill, will highlight correspondence between Harrison Gray Otis and his wife, Sally during the period 1797-1801. Also featured will be decorative arts from the Federal period related to the art of letter writing, such as an early 19th-century copying box, the equivalent of today’s Xerox.

The Nichols House Museum, 55 Mount Vernon St. in Beacon Hill, will exhibit beautifully crafted letters and postcards used by members of the Nichols family to share their experiences with friends and relatives. Whether describing the Grand Tour of Europe, afternoon tea, elegant soirées or the suffragist movement, their correspondence reflected Gilded Age sensibilities.

Prescott House Museum, 55 Beacon St., will give a tour showing how the mundane correspondence of the Prescott family regarding the major 1845 renovation has provided rich details used to interpret and enliven the house for the modern visitor.  The tour will give people a chance to listen in through the text of these letters and to hear what setting up a house in mid-nineteenth century Beacon Hill was like.

The Gibson House Museum, at 137 Beacon St. in the Back Bay, will show a range of 19th century correspondence, including wedding and party invitations, calling cards and other materials illustrating the social life of a Back Bay family in the late 1800s.

The House Museum Alliance of Downtown Boston was founded in 1998 to provide opportunities for its member museums to create joint programming and publicity to focus attention on these historic homes as valuable recreational, historical, and educational resources for the community.

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